Most scholars up till about twenty years ago interpreted Rembrandt's remarkable series of self-portraits as a sort of visual diary, a forty-year exercise in self-examination. In a 1961 book, art historian Manuel Gasser wrote, "Over the years, Rembrandt's self-portraits increasingly became a means for gaining self-knowledge, and in the end took the form of an interior dialogue: a lonely old man communicating with himself while he painted."
More recent scholarship has shed additional light on Rembrandt's early self-portrayals. Quite a few, it is argued, were tronies--head-and-shoulder studies in which the model plays a role or expresses a particular emotion. In the seventeenth century there was an avid market for such studies, which were considered a separate genre (although for an artist they also served as a storehouse of facial types and expressions for figures in history paintings). Thus, for example, we have four tiny etchings from 1630 that show Rembrandt, in turn, caught in fearful surprise, glowering with anger, smiling gamefully, and appearing to snarl--each expressed in lines that themselves embody the distinct emotions. Rembrandt may have used his own face because the model was cheap, but perhaps he was killing two birds with one stone.
In the 1640s and early '50s, as tastes turned to the more elegant Flemish style of painting and to the classicism exemplified by Poussin, Rembrandt lost some of his clientele and his popularity waned, but he would not alter his artistic approach to suit the art market. In fact, his unwillingness to compromise with patrons may have been a factor in this decline. One of his earliest biographers, FilippoBaldinucci, who based his writings on the testimony of one of Rembrandt's pupils, wrote, "After it had become commonly known that whomever wanted to be portrayed by him had to sit to him for some two or three months, there were few who came forward."
With objectivity unfraught by self-pity, yet perhaps tinged with a removed compassion, the artist has recounted the visage of the aging man revealed by his mirror. What furrows, strains, and saggings time has engraved there, the accumulation of momentary responses to experience, unremarked at the time, that have each left their mark until his face has become a map of his life. Sorrow, pride, fear, strength, vulnerability, disillusionment, regret--all have left their imprint.
Last self portrait
King Henry VIIby Unknown artist oil on panel, arched top, 1505 16 3/4 in. x 1This PortraitThis impressive portrait is the earliest painting in the National Portrait Gallery's collection. The inscription records that the portrait was painted on 29 October 1505 by order of Herman Rinck, an agent for the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I. The portrait was probably painted as part of an unsuccessful marriage proposal, as Henry hoped to marry Maximillian's daughter Margaret of Savoy as his second wife.
Queen Mary I (1516-1558), Reigned 1553-8; daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Sitter associated with 48 portraits. This PortraitShowing Mary as princess, this may be the earliest surviving English portrait miniature. The brooch worn on her dress probably refers to Mary's betrothal to the Emperor Charles V (1521-5). This may be the earliest surviving English portrait miniature. Originally from the Netherlands, Lucas Horenbout was in service as a court painter to King Henry VIII by 1525, an office conferred on him for life in 1534. He painted portrait miniatures of the king and his family.
King Henry VIIIby Unknown artist oil on panel, circa 1535-1540 23 in. x 17 1/2 in. (584 mm x 445 mm)
This PortraitPainted at the time of her marriage to Frederick, Elector Palatine, this portrait probably shows Elizabeth in her wedding dress. The royal coat of arms and the heraldic lion and unicorn can be seen on her lace collar. The black arm band is in memory of her brother, Henry, Prince of Wales, who had died the previous year.
Thomas Howard, 2nd Earl of Arundel and Surreyby Sir Peter Paul Rubens oil on canvas, 1629 27 in. x 21 in. (686 mm x 533 mm)
Sir Joshua REynolds
King George III
The Bronte sisters
Queen Victoria1819-1901), Reigned 1837-1901. Sitter associated with 375 portraits
Henri Gaudier-Brzeska self portrait
Clare Zinkeisen self portrait, fashion, theater and equestrian champion
Sir John Clifford MortimerMortimer sat to Tai-Shan Schierenberg in 1992 as a National Portrait Gallery commission. The sittings took place in the artist's studio behind the White House in Regent's Park; John Mortimer recalled the discomfort ('it was absolute agony') of the grim, cold surroundings, though he subsequently turned them to advantage as the setting of a murder in one of the Rumpole episodes. The portrait depicted as if hanging on the wall behind Mortimer is of the artist and was described by the sitter as 'a mysterious version of him'.
The Old Master Rembrandt van Rijn created more than 90 portraits of himself that date from the outset of his career in the 1620s to the year of his death in 1669. He created an autobiography in art that is the equal of the finest ever produced…<br />
"Over the years, Rembrandt's self-portraits increasingly became a means for gaining self-knowledge, and in the end took the form of an interior dialogue: a lonely old man communicating with himself while he painted."<br />
Don't Do That!<br />DON'T draw an eye like this! So many things are wrong with it. Notice that the eyebrow is kind of close to the eye itself. Should it really be this way? Often, the eyebrow is higher up. Look at your model closely, and make sure that you get the eyebrow placed in the proper place. <br />The eye is too much like a fat almond shape here. The eye should have more of an angular, asymmetrical almond shape. There is no tear duct thingie. People will notice its absence, if only subconsciously.<br />The thickness on the bottom lid is drawn badly. This area should be drawn with a delicate touch - if not, the eye will look uncomfortable. The hard line that goes all across the bottom lid is not flattering.<br />The line underneath it (where the eyelashes are) just makes the whole bottom lid look ugly. <br />The eyelashes look too spikey, and are starting to resemble spider's legs. Creepy-looking.<br />The iris is not round. It has to be round! ROUND, I tell you! The pupil also is not round, and is not concentric with the iris. Too much of the iris is showing. Usually (unless the person has had waaay too much caffiiene) there is a lot more of the iris concealed underneath the top eyelid.<br />Also, what are those wheel-spoke lines coming out from the pupil? That's just wrong. Wrong, I tell you!<br />There is no shading on the eye, eyelid, or anywhere. It makes the eye look flat.<br />
Step One<br /> Split the bottom half of the face into three equal sections between the bottom of the eyes and the bottom of the chin. Use a pencil and don't try too hard to be perfect as this part of the drawing is very rough.<br />
Step Two<br /> Draw in with a pencil the bottom or tip of the nose that should rest on the first third line of the bottom half of the face.<br />
Step Three<br />Fill in the upper lip by drawing a line about half way up the second third of the bottom half of the face. The edge of the mouth should line up with the middle of the eyes<br />
Step Four<br />Pencil in the indent of the chin by drawing a line half way up the bottom third of the bottom half of the face. The nose, middle of the lips and chin indent should all line up.<br />
Step Five<br />Sketch the bottom of the chin in line with the bottom of the third section.<br />
Step Six<br />Indicate hairline about half way up the upper half of the face. This would indicate a younger portrait whereas a hairline further up indicates a receding line or an older person.<br />
Step Seven<br />Use pencil to draw in the rest of the features marked out in previous steps.<br />